A black 2020 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is shown driving through a river after leaving a used car deaership.

Used Models for Adventuring, Cruising, and Family-Friendly Driving

Used car dealerships typically sell every type of vehicle imaginable, which can get overwhelming, but we’re here to help you narrow down your search. Whether you want a vehicle that can take you on weekend nature adventures, something that’s cheap to cruise around in, or a full-sized family model, we’ve got you covered. Most people think that buying a vehicle is about affordability and aesthetic preferences. While that’s a big part of it, your lifestyle is one of the most important things to factor in while car shopping.

Great Models to Explore Nature In

Typically speaking, SUVs reign when it comes to outdoor adventuring. Whether you’re doing hardcore off-roading or you’re just looking for a place to set up camp, our SUV options will get you where you want to go.

The Jeep Wrangler

The most obvious off-roading and adventuring model to choose is the Jeep Wrangler. While Wranglers are known for their high price tags when compared to other SUV models, the truth is that you can get an older Wrangler for an affordable price without having to worry about quality. These models are tough and durable, which is why they cost more when they’re new. So, years of “wear and tear” do not affect a Wrangler like they do other vehicles. A great example here is that you can get a 2015 two-door Sahara model for almost half of what you can purchase a brand new Sahara for. Jeep Wrangler Sahara trims are one of the higher available trims as well, which means that they come with higher-quality materials and technologies.

Another great perk to Wranglers is that they’re easily customizable. You can add on everything from new bumpers and tow winches to colored headlight rings and grille inserts. Since Wranglers never change their looks much, no one will even notice that yours is a few years older than the newest model, especially if you take advantage of those parts upgrades. When you need something that will tackle the rockiest, muddiest backroads while keeping you safe and secure thanks to its roll cage and heavy-built body, check out a Jeep Wrangler today.

The Subaru Forester

Unless you plan on attempting hardcore off-road trailing, a Subaru Forester is also a great adventure vehicle. While it’s not as terrain-savvy as the Wrangler, it serves as a great model for campers, hikers, and even bikers. While you don’t want to take it rock climbing, the Forester handles perfectly well over gravel, dirt, and bumps. In fact, it’s well known for its smooth suspension. All you have to do is throw it into all-wheel drive, and you can tackle bumps and ruts with ease.

It’s the perfect adventure vehicle to take camping. The Forester offers available roof rack rails for your kayaks, drivers can throw on some bike racks for your bicycles, and you’ll also have plenty of cargo space despite this being a compact SUV model.

Plus, newer used Forester models come with high-trim security features if you want modern technology on your adventure model, and Subaru is known for its plentiful 5-star safety ratings. Also, keep in mind that this model gets better gas mileage than Wranglers do, so it’s a nice option for people who commute during the week but like to do some adventuring at the week’s end. When you want to safely take the family out for a weekend camper adventure, the Subaru Forester is a model you can depend on.

A grey 2020 Mazda3 is shown from the side driving down a dirt road.

Cheap Models for City Cruising

You may never want to step foot (or tire) off the pavement, and that’s perfectly fine. When that’s the case, you likely prefer something with great fuel economy. We’ve got a few used fuel-efficient models here that you’ll want to look into if this sounds more like what you need.

The Mazda3

Stylishness and fuel efficiency dominate the Mazda3 model. Now in its fourth generation (2019-Present), the Mazda3 brings all-wheel drive capabilities to the table alongside its great fuel economy, which makes it stand out against the competition. Just because you have a car doesn’t mean you can’t tackle the heavy rain and icy roadways now. (But do make sure that you don’t get overly confident, and use common sense nonetheless).

With that said, if all-wheel drive capability isn’t a must-have for you, consider purchasing a first-generation Mazda3 (2004-2008) to save some cash. You can actually purchase these models for less than $10,000 in some cases, and you’ll still gain access to that stellar fuel economy, getting as much as 40 MPG on the highway. When you want to look stylish while saving money, the Mazda3 is for you.

The Kia Rio

While it’s not as aesthetically appealing as the Mazda3, the Kia Rio is incredibly convenient and great for city commutes and cruising. Earlier Kia Rio models (such as the 2015 model) were among the first ever to include start and stop engines, which attributes to its fuel-saving capabilities.

The third and fourth-generation Kia Rio (2012-2017) models are your best options because they’re affordable yet tech-capable. The fourth-generation (2018-Present) added in a sportier design and additional tech features, including standard infotainment screens and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When you want to affordably zip around town, a Kia Rio model is ideal.

A grey 2020 GMC Yukon is shown from the front driving down a two lane road.

The Best Family-Friendly Model

The vehicle buying experience is far different when you have children to factor in. That’s why we need to look at some family-friendly models here. When you need space and entertainment features, you need to look into large SUVs such as the GMC Yukon.

The GMC Yukon

The Yukon is a large family-friendly SUV that gives you the opportunity to experience luxury appeal and features without paying a luxury price. Even the 2014 Yukon includes luxury safety features such as OnStar capabilities and Side Blind Zone Alert, which alerts drivers when another vehicle is in their blind zone. The only thing that matters more than safety is space, and the Yukon has both covered. A third-generation Yukon (2007-2014) provides seating for 9 passengers depending on what trim you choose, with over 81 cubic feet of available cargo space and over 41 inches of front legroom.

A perk to this family model is its towing capacity. When you want to go camping or want to take the pontoon to the lake, the Yukon as you and your kiddos covered. The fourth-generation Yukon (2015-2020) can tow up to 8,400 pounds. Throw the kayaks on top and the boat in the back; it’s time to head out on the water!

How to Choose Your Next New Model

Whether you want the adventure model, the cruiser, or the family-friendly SUV, there are some tips you need to know when visiting your local used car dealership. First off, if there’s no CARFAX report, you don’t need to be buying from there. When the dealer doesn’t want you to know the vehicle’s history, that almost always means that they have something to hide.

Second, remember that function is more important than brand. Most popular vehicle brands are reliable and durable; otherwise, they wouldn’t be succeeding so well in the market today. You want to pick a model based on your intent, not on brand stereotypes.

Lastly, make sure that the dealership offers its own servicing center. It’s a lot easier to take your vehicle back to the dealer, especially when you want to take advantage of warranties and incentives. Plus, your dealership knows your vehicle better than any other servicing center ever could, so your model’s long-term health is in safer hands when you use your dealership’s servicing center. When you remember these tips, and you don’t forget to factor your lifestyle into the buying process, you can be confident in taking home a model that won’t let you down.